School of Peace Studies

Phone: (619) 260-7919
Fax: (619) 849-8109

Location: KIPJ Room 113
Joan B. Kroc School of Peace Studies
5998 Alcala Park
San Diego, CA 92110

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About the Kroc School

Re-Imagining Borders Photography Contest 2012-2013

Date and Time:

Thursday, April 11, 2013 – Friday, April 12, 2013


Joan B. Kroc Institute for Peace and Justice


The Trans-Border Institute’s Re-Imagining Borders Contest was an exhibition for high school and college students aimed at stimulating young audiences to develop greater awareness, think creatively, and exchange ideas about the meaning and impact of borders. Participants were encouraged to use photography to explore the theme of borders in a variety of forms (physical, psychological, ethnic, cultural, national, or international) and imagine new ways of overcoming barriers. A panel of museum professionals, educators, and photographers judged the contest, naming three Best in Show winners and two Honorable Mention winners in each category.

Best in Show Exhibit

Category 1 - High School Student and Use of Mobile Device

Photograph Information

Best in Show
Sebastian Vega
Camera: iPhone 4s

This image is what I believe is the essence of reimagining borders. An African American, Mexican American, Thai, Russian, and Caucasian are conversing about what they learned earlier that day about the civil rights movement.

The wall that divides families

Best in Show
Adrian Valenzuela
“The Wall That Divides Families”
Camera: iPhone 4

This is a physical border in the real world, but it is also a border between my family and me. This border is a border in my life because it prevents my family and me from seeing each other.


Best in Show
Brittney Aceron
Camera: iPhone

When I think of a backpack I think of traveling. Each backpack carries its own experience and stories. Each backpack is unique and different.

the outcasts

Best in Show Honorable Mention
Mahlia Lagai
“The Outcasts”
Camera: iPhone 4s

In this picture, the hands are reaching across the border because they want to have a better life. It represents how much someone wants to be able to have the same opportunities as others.


Best in Show Honorable Mention
Julia Becker
Camera: iPhone 4

These car wheels show the long line when people are crossing the border every day. These different cars are coming from all around the world and driving different distances and different places, but all of them have a story.

Category 2: High School Student and Use of Digital Camera

Photograph Information
divided unity

Best in Show
Tiffany Ong
“Divided Unity”
Camera: Canon EOS Rebel T2i

My photograph featuring a seashell juxtaposed with a potato chip represents how peoples or ideas separated by boundaries are in reality alike. Boundaries are created to separate two things that seem “different.” But what truly are boundaries?


Best in Show
Amelia Fisher
Camera: Nikon D5000

I hope this picture speaks to everyone out there, and says: Stop being terrified. I can tell you from experience that breaking these boundaries is an amazing feeling.


Best in Show
Peter Violante
Camera: Canon Rebel T3

The image is supposed to represent the literal border that everyone on either the U.S. or the Mexican side has to deal with, while allowing the clouds to metaphorically show the personal turmoil that can follow when one crosses to the U.S. side illegally.

taking flight

Best in Show Honorable Mention
Banyan Claussen
“Taking Flight”
Camera: Nikon DSLR 5100

Taking Flight speaks to the idea that borders are human constructs that remain irrelevant to the animal world. This photo was taken at Cabrillo National Monument, which is situated near the U.S.-Mexico border, a border that is meaningless to this white egret.

my life changing pinky promise

Best in Show Honorable Mention
Kiran Mehta
“My Life-Changing ‘Pinky Promise’”
Camera: Lumix Panaonic DMC-FZ40

A Peruvian shaman's son links his pinky with an American girl, who seeks to educate herself about the third-world. The young Peruvian boy, malnourished, enjoys his care-free and blissful life with the little he has, as he connects with the young American, who stresses over her craving for the iPhone.

Category 3 - College Student and Use of Mobile Device

Photograph Information
love crosses borders/el amor cruza fronteras

Best in Show
Yovany Diaz
“Love Crosses Borders / El Amor Cruza Fronteras”
Camera: Samsung Phone-Dark

When I was eight years old, I found myself swimming across the dark and terrifying cold water of El Rio Grande to be reunited with my mother. As we moved across the water I lost my handgrip with my brother, Bryan. It was then that I felt the pressure of the water forcing me to almost drown. It wasn’t an easy task, but I really wanted to see my mother.

la linea

Best in Show
Kurt Otis
“La Linea”
Camera: iPhone 4s

This photograph is a perfect example of what hard working people have to go through every day. Nobody really sees this very often. Most just see a lot of busses leaving, and not the daily struggle.

prayer time

Best in Show
Michelle Zei
“Prayer Time”
Camera: iPhone 4s

Here, a man is walking toward the security entrance for non-Israelis while Jews (back) leave through a different exit. Israelis and Palestinians pray at the temple/mosque at the same time, however there are separate entrances and a wall divides them inside.

el guanaco

Best in Show Honorable Mention
Madison Rogas
“El Guanaco “
Camera: iPhone 4

El Guanaco: a relative to the llama and alpaca OR in the case of the Chilean Student Movement, the police vehicle that shoots water at students. Chilean university and college students alike are currently fighting for equal and quality education.

Category 4 - College Student and Use of Digital Camera

innate human goodness

Best in Show
Jean Ulysse
“Innate Human Goodness”
Camera: Digital Camera

Poverty and excessive wealth have negative consequences for both individuals and societies, and desiring and possessing excessive wealth disrupts and destroys moral integrity and internal harmony in individuals and societies.

breaking barriers

Best in Show
Coleen Jose
“Breaking Barriers”
Camera: Canon 5D Mark II

“If it doesn’t affect the walking population, it doesn’t get noticed,” said Franco. “It’s more of an attitude barrier than anything else.” Countless businesses are not accessible. Many who use the few accessible subway lines risk being caught in the gaps between the platform and train or a high ledge when boarding. “I never knew the other side of the coin, walking,” said Franco. “It’s who I am. People are quick to stereotype. They don’t see the person, they see the chair first.”

Nepal border with India

Best in Show
Rishikesh Chaudhary
“Nepal Border with India”
Camera: DSC-W570 (Sony)

This photograph is taken on an early winter morning. The cemented rounded wall called “Killa” is the representation of border that separates Nepal from India standing on no man’s land.

love recognizes no boundaries

Best in Show Honorable Mention
Sarah Cady
“Love Recognizes No Boundaries”
Camera: Pentax K2000

Although there is a physical border between some families keeping them apart, there is no way to stop true compassion that is shared in moments like these and one can only hope that one day families and friends will be united in this love without a physical obstacle.


Best in Show Honorable Mention
Victor Garcia
Camera: Nikon Coolpix P7000

This is a picture of the street where my home is. I have been living there since I was born and the border always shines at the end of the street every night with a yellow glow. Every night it’s a reminder that I'm in Tijuana.

vehicle access prohibited

Best in Show Honorable Mention
Jillian Grant
“Vehicle Access Prohibited”
Camera: Canon EOS Rebel

This photograph was taken half a mile from the U.S.-Mexico Border in Border Field State Park. The building was unoccupied and seemed to be for visitor information. Vehicles were not allowed to drive through this area or on the road to the beach.


Lecture and Award Ceremony

Joan B. Kroc School of Peace Studies Theatre
April 11, 2013
, 6 p.m. - 8 p.m.

jon lowenstein lecture
award ceremony

The photography contest culminated with a lecture by photojournalist Jon Lowenstein of NOOR Images, who discussed his work surrounding his photography exhibit Shadow Lives, USA. Lowenstein focused his remarks on the experiences he has had in his career and some of the obstacles he encountered in the places he has worked, including Chicago's Southside, Guatemala, and Mexico. He also discussed the difference between censored images in the United States and in other countries around the world.

After the lecture, the Re-Imagining Borders Photography Contest Award Ceremony was held where Best in Show winners were presented awards by Jon Lowenstein and Dominic Bracco, a photojournalist from the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting. The ceremony was followed with a reception in the gallery where Best in Show photographs were on display.

Watch the full video of Jon Lowenstein's Lecture and Award Ceremony.


Best in Show Photodocumenting Workshop

Joan B. Kroc School of Peace Studies Room C
April 12, 2013
, 2 p.m. - 6 p.m.

workshop workshop group photo

Best in Show winners were invited to an exclusive workshop with photojournalists Jon Lowenstein and Dominic Bracco. Topics covered in the workshop included:

  • The basics of a good photograph and composition
  • The role of photography in everyday lives and how it can be used
  • How to document issues to generate a balanced perspective of situations
  • Best practices for taking photographs in the human rights field
  • The ethics of using photography to represent an idea, concept, or feeling

After Lowenstein and Bracco offered insights on their own photographs and work, student participants were invited to share their own photographs with the group for feedback.

Watch the full video of the Best in Show Photodocumenting Workshop.


Collaborators, Partners, and Sponsors

The Re-Imagining Borders Photography Contest was made possible with the support of the University of San Diego's Center for Inclusion and Diversity and the following:


pulitzer logo

MOPA loga


global journal project

outside the lens logo

world link logo


janice deaton logo
casa guadalajara logo
auto pasion logo
rancho la puerta logo
fiesta de reyes logo


Vivien Francis
(619) 260-4166